Half of my job has nothing to do with making jewelry. It has to do with problem solving. I have now been in business for so long that many of my customers have aged a bit and sometimes the actual functinality of pieces can become challenging. One of my older (both in how long she's been coming to me and in age) customers loves pins and she has quite a few older ones, many of which I have worked on over the years. However her fingers are no longer as agile as they once were and she has a terrible time manipulating the pin stems, especially when they are short. A short pin stem is hard to get into a piece of material and then fit into the clasp mechanism and close the clasp. So one of the things I have tried to do for her over the years is to extend the length of the pins so she can manipulate them easily. Recently she came in with a piece I had worked on previously. But the somewhat longer pin stem we had added to it originally was no longer functional. So she wanted me to devise a solution for her that would allow her to put the pin on more easily.
When she was here I immediately said fine, I can just add a bigger piece behind it and put a longer pin stem on. But when I actually sat down with the piece I realized it wasn't quite that simple. First of all because of both my prior work, and possibly other prior work, I could no longer remove the cameo to do work on the piece and hope to get it back in, looking right, and set properly. So I couldn't solder it onto anything because the heat from my torch would have ruined the cameo. Additionally because there were open elements of the design that I really didn't want to lose I couldn't just simply attach it to a big piece of flat metal. So my first thought was to cut out a rectangle, the size of the pin, in the middle. So I did that. Only then I had to figure out how I was going to attach the pin to my larger piece of metal without using solder. At first I considered using rivets but there was no area on the pin that I either wouldn't have ruined trying to rivet (riveting involves hammering a piece of wire down onto a piece) or ruined the design by drilling holes through it for the rivets. Finally I figured out that I could use a prong like attachment to hook it on. This would resolve a number of issues: 1) I wouldn't have to use any solder to attach the piece. 2) I wouldn't have to destroy any part of the original piece to attach it. 3) It would actually get the job done (something always important in my book).
So if you look closely at the picture (one of mine, apologies) you will see that I ran four prongs up inside the border of her pin and bent them over to hold her pin in place. So no solder, a bigger pin, and hence much longer pin stem, and success. And given what I had to work with it looks consistent and pretty. Can't ask for much more than that. In this case, it wasn't about making jewelry, just figuring out HOW to make the jewelry. And now you know why I charge what I do!!!